Bumper crowd & great views
A bumper crowd is expected at the event which is headlined by the latest rounds of the high-profile British Touring Car Championship. Indeed Donington, next to East Midlands Airport off junction 24 of the M1, is easily accessed from cities including Birmingham, Derby, Leicester, Sheffield and Stoke and, having also benefited from recent development, the venue offers visitors some of the best views of any circuit in the land.
Rivett & Coates lead the way
For the Clio Cup, the event marks rounds three and four of its 2018 season. Three-time Champion Rivett and Coates did the winning in Brands Hatch’s opening rounds. Both however will have to be at their brilliant best to stay ahead of the rest at Donington which has a knack of conjuring up some of the closest racing of the year – particularly as at least a dozen more drivers are this year being touted as potential title contenders, such is the quality of the entry list.
Everyone else wants to beat them!
Heading the chase, indeed tying for third, are Rivett’s wily WDE Motorsport team-mate Lee Pattison and ex-BTCC racer Michael Epps, now in the Clio Cup with new team Matrix Motorsport. Each achieved a best result of fourth place at Brands; Pattison, along with Coates, took a win at Donington 12 months ago…
Next up in the standings are two of Coates’s Team Pyro team-mates, Daniel Rowbottom and Jack McCarthy, who took a third apiece at Brands. Rowbottom topped the times in recent testing at Thruxton and is also the Clio Cup’s race lap record holder around Donington while, at Brands, 17-year-old sensation McCarthy became the youngest driver in history to qualify on pole position for a Clio Cup race…
Also on the Brands podium was Westbourne Motorsport’s experienced James Colburn. Alas a strong second in race one there was cruelly followed by a retirement and both he and highly rated team-mate James Dorlin, well up in qualifying at Brands but who then endured two tough races, have work to do.
Bradley Burns and Zak Fulk, among local Leicestershire team Pyro’s latest young finds (both are still only 16), also showed real promise at Brands to come away eighth and 11th in the table, sandwiching WDE’s Sam Osborne and Dan Zelos in ninth and tenth.
Osborne was unfortunate not to be on the Brands podium and it was at Donington last year that he celebrated his best result to date, a fifth. It was also at Donington last April that Zelos broke his pole position duck with a new Clio Cup qualifying lap record. Meanwhile watch, too, for WDE’s equally ambitious Nic Hamilton in his stunning JET-liveried car…
Another to impress at Brands with a ninth place despite zero pre-season testing was Jade Edwards. She and rapid MRM team-mate Brett Lidsey will be keen to move up the order at Donington as will Andy Wilmot, Aaron Thompson and Jeff Alden – like Epps all with the local Burton-on-Trent outfit Matrix.
When to watch
The Clio Cup’s teams and drivers will first be on track at Donington on Thursday 26 April for two free practice sessions before returning 48 hours later on the Saturday for their timed qualifying (14:05-14:35) when their first and second fastest lap times will determine their starting grid positions for the two races. These take place on Sunday, at 10:00 and 15:55 and much of the action will be broadcast live on ITV4.
Both races are 14 laps in distance. The Clio Cup’s current qualifying and race lap records around Donington, both set in 2017, are 1m16.461s (Zelos) and 1m16.884s (Rowbottom) respectively.